Introduction to an evolutionary tail Evodevo, structure, and function of post-anal appendages

January 3 – Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

S5-1  Tue Jan 5 10:15 – 10:30  Introduction to an evolutionary tail: Evodevo, structure, and function of post-anal appendages Schwaner, MJ*; Hsieh, ST; McGowan, CP; University of Idaho, Moscow, ID; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; University of Idaho, Moscow, ID

Tails are extremely versatile appendages that contribute to the evolutionary success of animals in a remarkable range of ways. Just to name a few: They play keys roles in mating displays, territorial disputes, and mediating predator-prey interactions. They can also be reduced, elongated, prehensile, round or angular, or covered in spines. Tails are fundamental to locomotion in animals as well as bio-inspired robotic designs, providing propulsion in water, balance on land, and grasping in trees. They are common to all chordates and analogous structures have arisen convergently in numerous invertebrate species. Yet compared to appendages such as legs, tails are vastly understudied. Despite their evolutionary significance, we know relatively little about their development, morphological diversity, or mechanical function. In contrast to other parts of the body (i.e., limbs or parts of the axial skeleton other than the tail), tails have not yet been the focus of a scientific synthesis to bring to bear the power of integrative and comparative approaches. Yet, the simple fact that they persist as a common structure of the basic animal body plan emphasizes their evolutionary importance. This symposium will bring together diverse researchers examining the breadth of tail structure and function, with the goal of stimulating new directions for study. We will assemble behavioral and evolutionary biologists, ecologists, biomechanists, computational biologists, and roboticists to discuss the breadth and similarities among tail use and shape. These presentations will provide new insight and synergies among scientists across disciplines who otherwise may not normally interact and allows for the first time a larger framework for research on tail evolution, form, and function.

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